New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top aide allegedly coordinated an effort to dig dirt on his first accuser after she made reports of sexual harassment against him in December, according to new reports.
The governor’s office called at least six former employees to find out if they had contact with the accuser, Lindsay Boylan, and tried to find out information to discredit her in a manner the ex-staffers described as intimidating, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Journal states that the outreach came at the behest of Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide who is also embroiled in the nursing home COVID deaths scandal.
Boylan, a former Cuomo aide, first made the claim that she was sexually harassed by him on Twitter in December and revealed more about her allegations and her experience with the governor in a Medium post in late February.
The alleged harassment took place when she was as an economic adviser for the Cuomo administration between 2015 and 2018.
She claims that Cuomo tried to kiss her on the lips in his office and that during a 2017 flight, suggested they play strip poker.
Boylan this week spoke out about the online abuse she has received since she came forward with her claims.
Aides to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured) allegedly called former staffers looking for dirt after the first reports of sexual harassment were made against him December
The calls came after Lindsay Boylan became the first woman to accuse Cuomo of harassment
She revealed in a tweet the extent of the vitriol being directed online toward her and the other accusers.
Cuomo is now facing accusations from six women in total, including a current aide who has remained anonymous. They also include three former aides during his time as governor.
‘Please understand, I am ok, and I will be ok. But these online trolls are being seen by other survivors,’ Boylan, who is running fomr Manhattan borough president, wrote in a March 7 tweet.
‘Not all survivors have the privilege of a platform I do. Not all survivors have the support system I do. The hate of survivors and misogyny needs to stop.’
Cuomo’s fifth accuser Karen Hinton, who worked with him during his time at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, also hit out at those online accusing her of a coordinated attack on Cuomo.
Hinton had been targeted online because she has also previously worked for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom Cuomo has an ongoing feud.
She has claimed that the governor invited her to his dimly lit hotel room in 2000 where he held her in an uncomfortable embrace.
‘I am not running for office in NY or New Orleans. I am not working for anybody who has a plan to run against Andrew,’ she wrote on Twitter the same day as Boylan.
‘I’m a 62 yr old woman with no job because of my accident. I worked for Mayor to help him, not be disloyal to Andrew. It’s always, always, always about Andrew.’
It comes as the extent to which Cuomo’s aides allegedly went to find dirt on at least one of his accusers was revealed.
The Journal reports that some of the former aides they contacted about Boylan had not heard from the administration in months, with one stating that they were encouraged to give any information they had to discredit her to the press.
The calls were allegedly made by both current Cuomo staff and former aides who remain close to them.
Ana Liss, a former Cuomo aide, was among the ex-staff to say she received a call
Liss emerged as Cuomo’s fourth accuser last week. He now faces allegations from six women
Among those to receive a call was Ana Liss, who would later be the fourth woman to accuse Cuomo of harassment.
‘I felt intimidated, and I felt bewildered,’ she told the Journal of the December 21 conversation, which was eight days after Boylan had first made the claims on Twitter.
Liss said she had not spoken to the administration in months before she received the call. She said that she was asked if she had heard from Boylan and was reminded of the work she had done for the governor.
The conversation ended on a friendly note when she said she hadn’t been in touch with Boylan.
Liss has said in her own claims that the governor asked her if she had a boyfriend, touched her on the lower back during an event reception and kissed her on the hand before she asked to move from his office.
She had spoken in December to Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Cuomo, who denied that he or anyone else had been a part of a direct effort to find information on Boylan.
‘After Ms. Boylan’s tweets in December, she, and her lawyers and members of the press began reaching out to former members of the Chamber, many of whom never worked with her,’ he said.
‘Those former members of the Chamber called to let various staff people know and convey that they were upset by the outreach. As a result, we proactively reached out to some former colleagues to check in and make sure they had a heads up.
‘There was no directed effort—this outreach happened organically when everyone’s phone started to blow up,’ he said about claims it was coordinated by DeRosa, adding that nobody was intimidated.
In a tweet after Azzopardi’s statement was issued on Thursday night, Boylan hit back at the claims, calling him a ‘fraud’ and a ‘liar’.
‘I didn’t have a lawyer. I just had the full force of state government against me @RichAzzopardi . You are a liar and a fraud,’ she wrote.
In later tweets she accused Cuomo of using state government of attempts to ‘destroy’ her.
‘My abuser used the full force of state government, of all his power, to destroy me when I spoke out. He did not destroy me. He will not destroy me. I will help dismantle his abuse of power,’ she said.
‘My abuser’s team tried to weaponize my daughter. As I said, God help you.’
Cuomo has been facing calls to resign